Reports Of Financial Elder Abuse Rising At Alarming Rate
Steps For Protecting Seniors
Legal Remedies For Victims Of Financial Elder Abuse
Reports of financial elder abuse of older Americans are rising at an alarming rate across the country. Financial exploitation of older Americans is not the inevitable consequence of growing old but the sad reality for millions of seniors in America every year. One California county recently reported that it received 10,000 reports of elder abuse last year alone. When you consider that much elder abuse goes reported the numbers are truly shocking. All seniors are potential victims, rich or poor, married or single, male or female, straight or LGBTQIA+, living at home or in facilities. We all have a role to play in putting a top to this national tragedy and changing how we talk about elder abuse in our communities. The legal protections are already in the law itself, especially here in California, but the protections are of no avail for the elderly if those protections are not enforced. Any taking of a senior’s property, or any assistance in that taking, is a crime and grounds for civil liability of the person doing the taking and anyone assisting him or her. California Penal Code § 368 and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse). California broadly defines what constitutes financial elder or dependent adult abuse:
(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:
(1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.
(3) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by undue influence, as defined in Section 15610.70.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse in Marin County or elsewhere California, call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Prevalence of Elder Abuse
Here are some of the disturbing trends in the elder abuse epidemic:
- Elderly women are more likely to suffer from abuse than men, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
- LGBTQIA+ seniors are especially vulnerable to abuse according to studies. Many LGBTQIA+ persons live alone exacerbating their vulnerability.
- At least 1 out of 10 adults over the age of 65 suffers from at least one type of abuse each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Data from the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 95 million Americans will be aged 65 or older by the year 2060.
- As of 2017, 1.2 million seniors need nursing home care. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to 1.9 million, according to the Population Reference Bureau.
- Elder abuse often goes unreported. In one recent study, only 1 out of nearly 24 elder abuse cases were actually reported to authorities.
Protecting Older Loved One From Theft
Below are a few important steps you can take to protect an older loved one from theft. If you suspect a problem, report any suspicions and call elder abuse counsel to pursue all civil remedies available.
- Always run a background check and contact references for any in-home caregiver before hiring them. Check out the agency’s record too.
- Keep cash and jewelry out of reach of any caregiver or care facility aides at all times.
- Always keep Social Security numbers and account numbers in a secure place, off limits to any in-home caregivers.
- Caregivers should not see any Trust or Will. The senior’s financial affairs and estate planning documents are none of their business.
- Do not permit a caregiver to run errands with a senior’s credit card or use an ATM to get cash for the senior.
- Never make a caregiver an authorized signer on a bank account or grant a Power of Attorney to a caregiver or show them a trust, Will or other financial papers.
- Frequently review the senior’s bank statements, records and mail. You may want to redirect the mail to your home so others do not have access to it.
- Speak to the senior alone, without the caregiver present, to find out any problems they may be having.
If you suspect financial elder abuse of a loved one in Marin County, or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). Ingrid will pursue all available remedies against those responsible for the financial elder abuse of the senior, including damages, rescission (undoing a fraudulent transaction), restitution (getting your money back), extra damages (to punish illegal behavior), and the award of attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing your action.